All reviews all the time! Home   Movies   Music   Video Games

 Search Amazon
 Browse CDs 

 Browse Songs 

 Amazon Music Lists 

 Other Music Review
The Menace

music reviewmusic review  out of 4 Music Review: The Menace

Artist: Elastica
Genre: Rock/Pop
Release Date: August 2000

Review by LarryG
2 stars out of 4

Elastica's 1995 self titled CD was a pop masterpiece, with fast, fun songs like Stutter, All-Nighter and Annie and the cool synthy power pop of Connection. Justine Frischmann presented a cocky image and had the music to back it up. More than five years later, after many false starts in recording a followup and Frischmann's breakup with Blur's Damon Albarn(who some say took his songwriting help with him), Elastica finally released The Menace. The cool, cocky image is still there but, on The Menace, the music is often lacking.

The Menace generally has two kinds of songs. There are boisterous rockers, where the band seems to be having a good time, and atmospheric synth pieces that are generally pretty insubstantial. The Menace starts fairly promisingly. Mad Dog God Dam is edgy and energized by a slicing guitar, fun synths, thick bass and quick drums. Frischmann's tough vocals match the lyrics about a strong woman who declares, "don't want you on your back, I just got on my feet." The rest of The Menace's rockers are noisy, cacophonous and usually not too interesting. How He Wrote Elastica Man is a good time, partly because of vocals and lyrics by The Fall's Mark E. Smith, an expert in making noisy cacophony fun. How I Wrote Elastica Man has the anarchic spirit of a Fall song. Over a cheesy/spooky keyboard, Frischmann and Smith yell out the letters of Elastica like demented cheerleaders. The band follow with expressions that only sometimes match the letters. With his typically filtered vocals, Smith mumbles things like "break through class barriers." It's good that Frischmann presents an image of a confident woman but her shrieked vocals on Generator and Your Arse My Place are cutesy and annoying. KB is fairly irritating. Frischmann yells out things like "kickin' it out" over a thin, harsh guitar line.

Nothing Stays The Same, one of the few songs featuring original Elastica guitarist Donna Matthews, is The Menace's luminous highlight. It shows Frischmann can still create a pop gem. Nothing Stays The Same has the echoed atmosphere and clear, stark percussion of a Phil Spector girl group confection. Delicate guitar, keyboards and backing vocals underline Frischmann's cool, subtle, bittersweet delivery of a song about being disappointed("being best got bitter") and trying to find peace of mind. The rest of the synthesizer based songs are better on mood than content. Almost all of the band from Elastica's debut is gone for The Menace. Frischmann has apparently put together a good band but they often don't have much to work with. Image Change's meditation on surface vs. substance and Human's tale of longing have good, sleek electronic atmosphere but the songs are icy, vague and uninvolving. Miami Nice, a spacy industrial synth instrumental 80's throwback never gets interesting. Love Like Ours sounds familiar but it is striking as it the keyboards keep building in intensity while Frischmann keeps her cool, repeating "a love like ours will never die." The muffled, distorted My Sex is pretentious but interesting. Over minimal keyboards, Frischmann speaks a love poem about "what I want." She's appealingly vulnerable, saying that she wants "you to be waiting round the other side of every door", "to make your heart beat faster" and to "kiss you 'til everything hurts." I like The Way I Like It's story of doing OK after having "had a lover who was made of sand and the wind blew him away" but Frischmann's showily nonchalant delivery makes it less appealing. The Menace ends with Elastica's faithful remake of Trio's Da Da Da, which like the original is based on a cheesy, thin percussion line from an early Casio keyboard. Frischmann tries so hard on most of The Menace to project a strong, confident personality and to make interesting songs with an attitude that Da Da Da's simplicity is welcome.

It's a strange thing to say about a record that took five years to make, but some of the songs on The Menace seem like sketches that could be better developed. The lyrics often have an compelling sense of a woman regaining her confidence after a time of transition. But the music is usually unfocused and unmelodic and is frequently obnoxious. The Menace seems ambitious but to no particular end and it doesn't match up to the sleek, energetic simplicity of Elastica's debut.



Home | Movies | Music | Video Games | Songs | | | Columbia House | Netflix

Copyright 1998-2002
Privacy Policy |  Advertising Info |  Contact Us